Somerville has a cool new early childhood website: SomervilleHub.org.
Produced by the Somerville Early Education Steering Committee, the website helps “connect local families with young children to the full range of information and resources they need to raise healthy, active children from birth to age 8,” a press release explains.
The wide range of information and insights include: facts on growth and development; good ideas about free craft activities offered by local businesses; kids’ programs run by local nonprofit organizations such as Eagle Eye Institute; and information on childcare and school options, social services, family events, and local parks.
Somerville’s goal is to provide a central hub for parents “especially in the early childhood years, to help their children develop kindergarten-readiness and then thrive and reach their full potential once enrolled in school.”
In an impressive nod to Somerville’s diversity, the website’s content can be translated into some 80 languages that range from Afrikaans and Albanian to Mongolian and Nepali to Yiddish and Zulu.
“This website is a continuation of our commitment to the whole child,” Superintendent of Schools Tony Pierantozzi says in the release. It is “the result of an intense collaborative effort and a community commitment to our families and the educational success of our youngest residents.”
Funding for this project comes from a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, and from the City of Somerville via the SomerPromise program.
A Step Toward “Readiness”
“The website is the next key step in Somerville’s efforts to bring its vision of a Universal Kindergarten Readiness System to fruition,” the release says.
The idea for the website came from a recommendation for a “convenient portal” in a report — “SomerReady: Creating a Citywide, Universal Kindergarten Readiness System” — that was commissioned last year by the Somerville Public Schools, the City of Somerville, and the School Committee. The idea was to “portray the scope of the Somerville Early Education and Care system” and create a web-based tool that could also produce “useful print materials.”
In addition to the website, Somerville has already taken action on some of the report’s other recommendations, including:
• hiring Lisa Kuh to be the district’s first Director of Early Education
• hosting a two-day conference for early educators on “Science in Early Childhood Settings,” and,
• hiring a full-time early education coach to expand coaching support for early childhood providers across the city
For Somerville, this work recognizes and respects the vitality of the local community. As the report explains, “Somerville is a child-friendly city. It is also a city that has seen a mini baby boom in recent years, a growth in the preschool population that has strained some resources within the City while stimulating the development of other services. Our program strength reflects a deep commitment to the children in our midst, and to their parents, other family members, and guardians.”
The report adds: “Somerville has much to be proud of in its current offerings [for] families with young children. But those offerings must continue to evolve in order to fully meet the needs of our youngest residents and their families.”
The new website represents a promising step in that evolution.
As Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said in the release, “This website is another example of our efforts to ensure that every student, and every family, is exposed to a rich curriculum and afforded the same opportunities.” He adds, “We’re building on our community strengths to create an atmosphere where our students can reach their greatest potential.”